Star Wars: The Force Awakens – the upcoming seventh live-action Star Wars movie – will introduce a new generation of heroes and villains alike from a galaxy far, far away, accompanied by fan-favorites from the original Star Wars film trilogy – including, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Leia Organa/Skywalker (Carrie Fisher). Certain new characters will be played by established up and comers, be they X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) or high-ranking stormtrooper Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie); other new additions, however, are going to be brought to life by lesser-known talents.
John Boyega, whose Force Awakens character Finn shares protagonist duties with the film’s young female lead Rey (Daisy Ridley), is one such example, as his biggest role to date was in the Joe Cornish sci-fi action/comedy Attack the Block – a critically-acclaimed film that was not widely seen. Boyega has now opened up a bit about the process he went through to land the role of Finn; he additionally offered a tease of the character’s personal journey, in the Star Wars franchise’s next big screen installment.
Boyega’s well-received Attack the Block performance helped led to him being shortlisted for roles in both Termiantor Genisys and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (back in 2014), before he locked down his part in co-writer and director J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars movie. The audition process was an intense one – as you might expect – though Boyega assured GQ that it was worth it when he got the chance to finally read the Force Awakens screenplay crafted by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi):
“I was unleashed into seven months of auditions. It was like The X Factor but without the TV show around it. It was intense… When I read the script I cried, and I’m not really a big crier… I’m more like a frog-in-the- throat kind of guy, who’ll try to hold it in and make sure I don’t let it all out.”
The actor went on to provide a tease of Finn’s experiences in Force Awakens:
“Finn is dope. His story is so epic. It’s a story that’s never been seen before, but it also mirrors the stories of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. And he’s quirky and charismatic and funny. For me, he was the best character in the script.”
There’s still a fair amount of mystery surrounding Finn (for example, his last name remains a secret), as there is Force Awakens in general. However, thanks to the movie’s trailers and teasers, it’s now a given that Finn starts the film as a stormtrooper working for The First Order – a powerful organization modeled after the Galactic Empire – and winds up going on an adventure with Rey, a junk scavenger from the planet Jakku, as well as the elder Han Solo and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). He also wields a lightsaber at some point during the movie, which Boyega touched upon during his GQ interview:
“They’re heavy, those things, and there’s a lot of running involved. I was trained on a high incline treadmill so when it came to it I could sprint around the desert in a leather jacket. They should do a Star Wars weight loss program.”
Many people have noted that Finn is either running around or catching his breath in the Force Awakens footage unveiled thus far, so it seems that Boyega did indeed get a nice workout from making the film. Moreover, as the actor noted, there do appear to be parallels between Finn’s arc in Force Awakens and a combination of the stories for both Han Solo (a morally-ambiguous character who becomes a hero) and Luke Skywalker (an ordinary young man who learns of his sensitivity to The Force) in the first Star Wars movie, Episode IV: A New Hope. How far those similarities extend – and whether or not they will go a little too far for some fans’ tastes – will be revealed in time, of course.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.